Senn High School principal shares thoughts on returning to in-person

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By: Jackson Elstro, Loyola Senior; Stefano Garcia, Loyola Sophomore; Sarah Mahaney, Loyola Freshman 

The reopening of Chicago Public High Schools has left many families uncertain on whether to send their students back to in-person learning or remain online.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced their plans of allowing students to return back to school in person via email on March 16th. This comes from an unusual way of learning for students during unprecedented times during this academic school year.

Senn High School, located in Edgewater, is planning to reopen on April 19. With a diverse enrollment of nearly 1,500, each student is able to make their own decision on whether to opt-in to in-person instruction.

Principal Mary Beck has worked at Senn High School for five years. Beck has children in 1st and 3rd grades who attend Franklin Fine Arts. 

Beck made the decision to send her own children back to school when a hybrid model was offered to elementary grades. Beck has been able to observe the process as a principal and as a parent. 

Beck said, “As an educator, I’m respecting the fact that it is a personal decision for families just like as a parent. I knew it was my decision to make and what was best for our family was sending our kids back.”

The Principal of Senn High School has faced adversity throughout the academic school year as students were online. However, students will have to adapt to their environment again once they return. 

Beck said, “Ideally, it’s going to enhance the quality of education both for the students in-person and students who choose to stay remote. So, I’m hoping this shift once again is able to help our teachers better understand our students and push us to grow as we find yet another tool to use for instruction.”

Students and faculty can expect this transition to be more difficult due to the long period without any in-person instruction. Unlike the three-month summer break, students have been out of a regular routine for over a year.

Beck said, “I think people are going to be tired. Whenever we come back from summer break, everyone is exhausted the first week or two because you’ve just shifted the way in which you operate. But I think, after a couple of weeks they will get used to it.”

Due to the unique situations for many of the students, Beck understands that the decision made by each family is individual and personal.

Beck said “It is absolutely a family decision on whether or not to send the students back. I really approached all my communication with parents from that lens. I know that some people are comfortable, some are not, and the comfortability changes too.”

For more information on the reopening of Senn High School, click here.

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